A powerful personal testimony

The Diary of a Striking Miner reaches its conclusion

“A true and honest account of the strike.” That’s how Bruce Wilson describes his book Life On The Front Line: In The 1984-85 Miners’ Strike.

Bruce kept a diary, a personal record of day-to-day events during the bitter twelve-month struggle. It is a vivid document which takes you right into the centre of the lives of a group of flying pickets, mainly from Silverwood Colliery, during the strike. The diary is essential reading for anyone who wants insights into the courage, motivation and determination of a group of the National Union of Mineworkers front-line troops in the battle to save jobs, pits and communities.

There are also vivid and disturbing accounts of the police brutality the pickets encountered. Bruce
describes one incident at the infamous Battle of Orgreave on 18 June 1984 as he is running away and comes across an older miner, in his fifties, on his knees and out of breath.

‘It was a hot day and he had an old long gaberdine coat on. Bruce writes, I couldn’t leave him there. I said, “Come on ow’d lad they’re not taking any prisoners today.” To this day I don’t know how he managed to get up and run, but he did.’

The diary also has the photographs, press cuttings and other material Bruce Wilson kept from that time.

The diary was originally published as the book ‘Yorkshire’s Flying Pickets’ by Pen & Sword Books, Barnsley. So that the book can reach out to a wider audience the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) have serialised the diary and the twelfth and final instalment will be published on the OTJC website on Saturday 21st November.

Joe Rollin, OTJC chair, said, “There are very few books that are published which are as authentic as this diary. This unique piece of work, written by a striking miner, captures the humour, the hardship and the comradeship of the striking miners. We are very grateful to Pen & Sword for allowing us to publish it.”

You can read Bruce’s diary here.